Sometimes, It IS Complicated

February’s here. And for the shortest month of the year, there’s plenty going on. There’s the Super Bowl, Groundhog Day, Mardi Gras and Presidents’ Day. But everyone knows Valentine’s Day is the most important day of the month.

It’s the day people either love, or love to hate.

When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think back to third grade. My teacher would force us to create cards for everyone in our class, make little mailboxes and walk around the class delivering the cards we’d made. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Valentine’s Day was also the first time I participated in a survey.

As I walked around making special deliveries, my friend Brittany handed me a piece of wide-ruled notebook paper with one scribbled question:

Do you like Evan?

  • Yes
  • No

I checked “No,” and gave it back to her. Weeks later, Evan started “dating” Emily. I was heartbroken.

If I were to design that survey today, I would use one of my favorite features, Question Display Logic. That way, when I selected “No,” a text box would appear allowing me to explain why — that my other friend Sara already called dibs on Evan, and I was bound by the code of friendship, despite my true feelings. Remember, I was in third grade.

Surveys don’t have to be long and complicated. But if you’re asking Rating or Yes/No questions, it’s a good idea to allow respondents to explain their answers further. Understanding the reasoning and context of certain answers paints a more complete picture of the respondent — giving survey creators and takers some needed nuance.

Because sometimes it is complicated.

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